Disclaimer here: marriage is nothing like you see in the movies or read in all the books. My entire life I grew up watching Disney Princesses fall madly in love at age 15 (or whatever young, naïve age they decided to spend the rest of their life with a grown man wearing tights) and live happily ever after. I read Anne of Green Gables and pined for a Gilbert of my very own. I swooned over romcoms and Pride and Prejudice and prayed for a man to sweep me off my feet like Leonardo DiCaprio did to Kate Winslet in Titanic (without the tragic icicle death, obviously).
My mind was warped to think that love was all about feeling something. I wanted to feel the butterflies inside of me. I wanted to feel my heart pounding out of my chest. I wanted to explode with desire every time my man even so much as brushed lightly up against me. But those movies lied to me. They lied to us all.
The world has taught us to follow our hearts. I’ve learned that can often lead to destruction. The Bible says that heart is wicked and deceitful and desperately sick! (Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21) Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery…. the list goes on! This is the exact opposite of what Disney taught me. This is the exact opposite of what everyone in the world was saying to me. Real love is not proven by the feelings of your heart. It is proven by the actions of your loyalty.
I did not understand this. I did not feel like I was being swept away by Leonardo. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be married. I had doubts. I had fears. I had reservations. I had about 10 total cold feet. Then one day, Ben took me up to the mountains near Fresno. I knew he was going to propose that day. I had a feeling. We walked around the cold lake, it was October, and at one point he bent down to tie his shoes. I stopped for a moment, then kept walking because I knew he’d catch up. Then, not 5 minutes later, he tripped and fell right in front of me! I just remember thinking, “Oh no. Now I’m going to have to carry him up the hill back to the car because he probably sprained his ankle or something.” So I walked over to him and reached for his hand in an attempt to pull him up. Instead, he grabbed my hand and pulled out the ring I had chosen.
I don’t remember anything he said. He must have asked me to marry him at some point because I know that I at least said “yes”. I wish I could recall the words he used, but I was in a state of disbelief. I knew it was coming, but I wasn’t prepared. I knew I was unsure about marriage, but I didn’t want to not be with this incredible person. I didn’t know myself and I hadn’t figured out what I wanted in life or who I even was supposed to be. So, what was supposed to be the most romantic moment of my life became a blurry memory of a time in my life that was steeped with confusion and uncertainty and that reality still makes me sad.
We of course, celebrated the engagement with my family and friends and I began the long and arduous journey of wedding planning. Well, my mom began the long and arduous journey of wedding planning. I don’t even think I remember making an appointment anywhere. Being the first born, and the only girl, I was pretty much her only shot at planning a fairy tale wedding since she married my dad when they were 19 and broke.
Mom suggests we go try on wedding dresses (like, the week after I get engaged) with all my aunties during a family vacation. The first store we visited, the fourth dress I tried on, I walked out of the dressing room and all my aunties started crying. This was obviously the one I needed to buy. I didn’t even want a veil but somehow my mom convinced me (and all the aunties) to get this super long, lacy, Spanish cathedral veil that wasn’t even a style I was in love with but it did make me feel like a vintage princess. I both loved and hated that all at once. I wasn’t a princess. I wasn’t pure. I wasn’t a virgin. I shouldn’t even be wearing white. In fact, my dress color was “eggshell”.
Let’s pause here for a moment because the whole idea of wearing white on your wedding day only if you’re pure is just ludicrous. It makes women feel as if their only value is their virginity and if they don’t have that, then the whole world needs to #1. Know all about it and #2. Judge her accordingly. I’ve heard those ridiculous illustrations of a woman as a rose and if you crush the rose (also known as having sex) the rose can never fully return to its original state. It’s tainted for life. Well you know what? That’s what life does to people. It crushes them and it destroys them but God can heal them and complete them and make them whole again. A woman’s value is not measured by her sexuality (or at least, it shouldn’t be). Her value is measured by God, by the fact that she’s a child of His. A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Fearing the Lord and having a colorful past can be synonymous.
So, the planning continued to happen, almost without my noticing. The whole thing was just so surreal and was happening so fast and I still wasn’t even completely sure I was ready to get married. Friends came and went out of the bridesmaids line up, which apparently happens when you’re young and idiotic and unsure about everything, and the next thing I knew it was time for my bachelorette party.
Now, I won’t bore you with the details. Without embarrassing myself too much, I’ll just sum it up by saying this: I couldn’t even retell that weekend to you if I tried. And if I could, I wouldn’t want to.
I was totally NOT mature enough to be getting married yet. But somehow, there I was, only a few short weeks away from the biggest decision of my life.